James 2:26....."Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works."
Out on North First Street God is showing us this on so many levels. See when I was growing up I tried so hard to do good things and to be good to earn love and affirmation. In retrospect, I was banking on good deeds to get me the love I needed from those around me. Sadly :0( this road only leads to disappointment because the "works" and "deeds" that you have are never enough. On the other hand....in my faith I saw a lot of people with lots of professed "faith", who treated others terribly and did not have any "works" to back up the words that they professed. It is when Faith and Works are married together that God works through his believers!
This week there have been so many of our homeless friends who have chosen to step out in faith and step into change. Brenda has chosen to leave Yakima for a nearby town to get some distance away form the life style that only leads to death. She asked her boy friend to go with her and he declined. As hard as it is to leave without him, she has chosen to trust God and move away so that she can have a better life. This is a huge leap of faith for this woman. She knows that the life style that she is living in is not what God wants for her. I am so proud of Brenda! It is a huge scary step for her, but she is taking a chance on God!
Les from North Dakota called again this week to update us on his new job. He was so excited! He has a 9 month contract with the John Deere Company to work on the assembly line. He took a huge leap of faith when he bought his one way ticket to North Dakota. His faith married his actions and God met him right at the junction where the 2 came together. He never leaves us or forsakes us!!
Lucy, a woman who has been seeking God got a call from Walmart last week! She may have work for the winter!! When we actively step out to meet God.... He draws near to us!!! Lucy's faith met her works....she stepped out and applied for the job... and God met her there! It is so encouraging to me!
Lester (different from North Dakota Les) shared in our prayer circle today that he starts his new job tomorrow. Lester has been searching for a job for 7 weeks. He professes his love for Jesus and has united his faith in the Lord with his active job search....right where God met him!
Today was such a great day of joyful stories! I made a ton of tator tot casserole for today. I spent the morning listening to preaching on-line as I cooked and prepared for the day. In faith I made the number of pans of food that the Lord seemed to be indicating. As the food line continued to move along, I grew fearful that we wouldn't have enough food. It was only the 3rd week of the month, but we seemed to have an unusually large amount of people today. I prayed that the Lord would stretch our food to the very last person....My faith joined my works and God met us right where they crossed...yes there was just enough food! We did not have to turn anybody down. Things like that grow my faith exponentially.
After returning home from serving on North First Street today, three wonderful young adults stopped by our house to talk about their experiences today on North First. They had served with us side by side and wanted to "de-brief" afterwards. What happened next ministered more to our hearts than theirs I think because their stories seemed to represent the whole idea of faith with works equals life!
The girls are walking testimonies even if they don't fully yet know it. They have overcome huge obstacles in their lives that most kids don't have to deal with while maintaining an incredible trust in God. They serve the Lord throughout their weeks and are an inspiration to me. It is the young man's story that seemed to move me so much today.
You see... this young man has overcome the life that we see every week on North First Street. He has overcome a prostitute, drug addicted mother as well as incredible neglect and abuse. From birth until age 10 Pablo was raised on the streets of Yakima by his mom who was a prostitute and huge drug addict. He and his 3 siblings were beaten regularly and neglected most of the time. Pablo said that he generally got about 3-4 meals a week and often went a few days without food. I personally have never gone a full day without food... never. Pablo shared that you just get used to the hunger pains. Summers were the hardest because he didn't have the school to feed him. At least during the school year he could count on breakfast and lunch. After a long time of mal-nutrition, Pablo said that it was hard to eat certain foods because his body would get sick and reject it. Pablo's mom would use her food stamps to buy food and then would sell it for drugs. If the kids got clothes from the mission, she would sell them.
Pablo had to repeat first grade because the first time around he missed too much school. His mom would beat him us so badly that he couldn't go out of the house. Needless to say, he had to repeat first grade. Pablo said that he was so afraid of his mom. He was scared to say anything to anyone because he believed that his mom would kill him. "I believed that my mom owned me and that she could do whatever she wanted with me." Pablo's mom frequently told him that he was worthless and that she was the best mom that he would ever get. She often would beat he and his siblings so badly and then would take them to the hospital. Pain meds were prescribed and then she would use the pain pills.
Keith and I had so many questions. We asked him when the point was that he decided that he didn't want that for his life? He said that he was 7 or 8 and decided he didn't ever want to do the things that his mom did because he didn't want to be like her. Throughout a 2 year period of time (when Pablo was 8-10 years old) Pablo's older brother started to try and get the kids removed from the home. during this time there was a lot of talk about the mom selling the kids into the sex slave world. Pablo's older brother had left the home and wanted desperately to get his siblings out of there before they were gone forever. Finally when Pablo was 10 years old, his brother successfully convinced CPS to get the kids out of the home. Pablo was called down to the office at school and was put into foster care. From that day on... Pablo never went back to their home again. This was a blessing for the kids because of the families who they were placed with.
You would never know by looking at this young man the hell that he has lived through. He is a happy upbeat high school guy who has such a love for Jesus! He actively seeks opportunities where he can serve others and does not seem to have any bitterness or anger. Of course we had to ask why and what made him want to try Jesus? Pablo's answer was so wonderful... he said that he could see how God put certain people in his life at different times... people whose faith-----had met their works---and he experienced the love of God through them. He said that as a ten year old, he could see that all the people who had helped him in his life had one thing in common.... the love of Jesus!!! Isn't that so amazing???? A ten year old could see that there were people who reached out to him and his siblings to help... and they did it in the love of Jesus!
Pablo loves Jesus and Pablo knows how real Jesus is. The other two young women we were talking to have lives that mirror Pablo's story in that they have gone through some really rotten things... but they continue to be walking a life where their faith meets their actions.... they have not given up on God... they have not buried themselves in bitterness or self-pity... but instead have chosen to seek the life that Jesus has for them...today, and tomorrow, and the next day. Their faith married to their actions are an inspiration to me! They are under 20 and they get it better than a lot of people 3 times their age. People... we need to step out... we need to reach out to those in need... to those people who are hurting emotionally as well as physically. Just think what would have happened to Pablo if people hadn't reached out to him throughout his life. He said that he remembers people handing out food like we do. Sometimes it was the much needed meal that filled his stomach because his own mom was too messed up to care for him. People ask us..."Don't you think that you are enabling them?" Jesus instructed us to clothe and feed the poor, so we do. Who knows what "Pablo's" were standing in line today. Who knows what "hope" we were able to give someone today.
Jesus continues to stretch me...to stretch my mind (I can't wrap my head completely around neglect and abuse)...he continues to stretch my heart around loving others... around "love not judge"...and he continues to stretch my faith around his incredible love, provision, healing, reconciling, all encompassing ways. Father God I thank You for always being enough, for never giving up, and for continuing to pour into all of us on North First Street. It really doesn't matter which side of the line you are on... God is pressing us to match our faith with our actions. As you go about your week... take a step closer in the direction God is moving you. It is always worth the risk!!! Pablo said, "The worst thing you can do in your faith is to do nothing." I think Pablo got it right! :0)